An Introduction to Rewilding.
Photo by Elli Lauren
REWILDING has pierced my heart and piqued my fascination for years. It is how I began a long, ongoing healing process through an even longer epoch of personal darkness. It possesses no formal definition. I’ve found it’s more like a meditation – opening itself up to those who continue to explore their truest nature and the inherent connection between themselves and the world around them. Yet, I now believe it to be steeped in the tradition of ecopsychology, which holds that the well-being of humans and the natural world are inextricably connected. Ecotherapists seek to heal the soul while engaging the whole, noting that there is not really an “out there” as defined in ecology and an “in here” as defined in psychology. There are interrelated.
Several years ago, I picked up a photo book that drew me in – Cass Bird’s (no shocker) REWILDING. Long before that, as an adolescent, I fell head over heels for the writing of Jon Krakauer and the story of Chris McCandless in Into The Wild. Krakauer’s prose – not just about Chris but about his and others’ journeys between city dwelling and stark, quiet landscapes – illustrated something to me that was an idea, a whisper, something nameless – this call of the wild, of nature, that our human queries and pains have a salve in what is natural to us, what is familiar on a cellular level.
Yet, REWILDING, to me, is not just communion with nature, though it’s suggested in many of its collective interpretations. I experience it as such…
- REWILDING is a return to ourselves – to our innate intelligence, intuition, and creativity.
- REWILDING is a recognition of our biological connection to the natural world and organic matter.
- REWILDING is the emphasis of healthy self-individuation and community engagement, returning to the cultural and communal paradigms we are organically structured for.
- REWILDING is about intuitive, holistic self-care: eating what our body is suggesting, doing what feels supportive to our best health, sleeping rhythms that rejuvenate, and recognizing and witnessing our bodies’ own wisdom.
- REWILDING is emphasizing the importance of mental health, recognizing the mind/body connection and goal of stasis.
- REWILDING is REWILDING – recognizing your untamed and simply magical inherent self, stripped of chemicals, of technological interruptions, of too much preoccupation with persona.
- REWILDING is a framework for coming back to our core, developing a healthier observing ego, and making sense of our senses.
- REWILDING is empowerment and liberation.
- REWILDING is seeking joy.
- REWILDING celebrates our individual places in the collective unconscious – Shadow and Light.
- REWILDING is when the extraordinary moments are actually the ordinary ones.
REWILDING is also emphasizing compassion.
That might seem a radical definition, but it is not. All mammalian beings MUST be shown some compassion and love to survive infancy and childhood. All humans are hardwired to need compassion, which is why we all should feel an intrinsic connection to our inner source of it. Yet, many of us have lost the feeling, the frequency – the phone lines are down. Living life with compassion IS radical REWILDING.
The throb of modern-day society has deadened much of our connection with our true selves – our wellspring, our life force – but all is not lost. Over the last few years, I endured the most challenging time of my life – loss in myriad forms, intense physical and mental struggles, and the threat of most of what I treasure crumbling. Yet, I was also reborn from this fire. Just like that, I became who I always was within. I still am. While incredible humans held me near and far during this emotional and tumultuous time – a truth I will forever count my lucky stars for – I came to put a lot of my faith and reliance on nature’s rhythms and both my mind and body’s knowledge I am a part of this universe, something almost unknowable but powerful. Nature reminded me I am body and soul and must nourish both. She reminded me I have instincts and intuition, and above all else all the knowledge I need to heal and find joy is within.
Thinking of my life through the lens of REWILDING, I moved to the outskirts of LA, nestled at the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains, where I slumber to the sound of coyotes and silence, mostly. I entered graduate school for a Depth Psychology masters program and returned to a childhood world I’d once inhabited, where much of life can be seen from a mythological, storytelling, archetypal lens. I deepened my work with individuals and groups, spanning the globe, through my personal Coaching/Reiki practice and Of The Wolves, now weREWILD. Then came my therapeutic and conservation work at Wolf Connection, the wolf sanctuary I help facilitate empowerment groups for at-risk adolescents as well as contribute to the rehabilitation (while they also rehabilitate me) of over 30 wolves on beautiful, sacred land.
***It is very important to us that though our weREWILD team is limited – in our ability to represent a vast swath of populations and diversity – we feel as though our organization holds some sort of wisdom and resource within it for anyone and everyone. In my work outside of weREWILD and within it, I collaborate with very diverse populations, who are constant teachers to me to be present and to evaluate the lens I am looking through. While inclusion is ALWAYS the aim, I am aware that it is not always possible to achieve that, to enshroud all perspectives and experiences. We very much welcome feedback and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.***
As this is a meditation on a lifelong practice I am committed to for myself and sharing with others, REWILDING as I see it will continue to be somewhat amorphous. I am grateful to be sharing this journey to our core selves and core tribes with you.